Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on FIFA’s efforts to control ambush marketing and the sale of unlicensed merchandise in conjunction with the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. more
You may have seen some recent press around NBA Orlando Magic center Marcin Gortat. A Polish newspaper published a photo of Gortat after game one of the NBA Finals that prominently displayed the Michael Jordan/Nike tattoo on Gortat’s lower right leg. Gortat, a native of Poland, has a shoe contract with Reebok. According to Tim Povak of Fanhouse.com, Reebok asked Gortat to either cover the tattoo with his socks or with make-up for the rest of the finals. Gortat said “that ain’t going to happen,” noting he had the tattoo when he signed with Rebook and it wasn’t a problem then.
This reminded me of the events that took place at the 2006 World Cup in Stuttgart, Germany where Dutch fans wearing orange lederhosen with the Bavaria Beer logo on them were required to remove their pants because Bavaria is not an official sponsor of the World Cup. This action was taken by FIFA on behalf its sponsor Budweiser.
These could both be considered forms of ambush marketing. However, a major point of differentiation is that Gortat is paid by Reebok, whereas the Dutch fans paid to attend the World Cup. It wasn’t Gortat’s intent to ambush his sponsor and it is debatable that Bavaria Beer’s intent was to ambush Budweiser. I can see both sides of this, but I wonder what the ultimate impact of these actions is on how consumers view these sponsors. Does the publicity draw more attention to the situation and their competitors’ brands then if there wasn’t any type of intervention? I would like to hear your opinion on this.